With $30 million coming to Franklin County from federal stimulus money, sustainable decisions should be made

July 28 – The Franklin County Commissioners have been meeting with nonprofits and healthcare organizations within the community to determine where to provide funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The county will receive $30 million from the federal stimulus bill.

One avenue the county has considered is ALICE. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. It’s a threshold for a group of people that earn above poverty wages, but below what’s considered a livable wage.

The poverty level for a single person is $12,140. For a family of four, it’s $25,100. For people that fall into that bracket, benefits are lost.

One suggestion for the federal money coming to the county is to give some to ALICE for the people that fit that threshold.

County Commissioner John Flannery joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen Tuesday morning on First News to discuss ALICE.

Flannery said, “Here’s my issue with that. You can drive up and down 81 and there are signs out there for $20 an hour warehouse jobs. A $20 an hour warehouse job puts you at $41,000 a year. So in my mind, this threshold doesn’t exist in Franklin County or it shouldn’t and if it does, the individual has to take responsibility for it. So I’m really opposed at looking at this segment of the population unless they are unable, not unwilling to take these jobs. Does that make sense?”

Jansen said, “That does make sense. I understand people’s circumstances do matter, but then there are people like you said who just don’t seem to be willing to take the job that would push them up over that threshold. Like myself, I was a single mom, two young kids, so I have other considerations and we know those situations can exist. I understand threshold benefit cliffs and things like that and how it affects people. But we do have a situation now where there’s so many jobs unfilled. Unfortunately I think we’re getting people used to the idea of having things coming in without having to make those difficult choices, but they are more healthy for our society than allowing the government just to take care of everybody.”

Ryan asked, “Will you be able to modify that spreadsheet? Is that something that’s on people’s radar screen?”

Flannery said, “Understand we haven’t gotten complete direction from the feds yet on how that money can be spent, but $15 million of that will be distributed throughout the municipalities in Franklin County. That will be directed directly to them so that means the county has $15 million to look into how we’re going to spend it. The thing that concerns me the most is we must invest this money sustainably. I don’t want to look at something that where we’re adding jobs that the taxpayer’s going to have to pick up the bill six months down the road when this money runs out so we have to be very careful how we spend this money.”

Jansen said, “It’s always a problem, isn’t it? It’s a one-time infusion and the temptation is always to do things that will be perpetual and you cannot do that with this kind of funding.”